Becoming leaders to fight HIV/AIDS in South Sudan

Jun 2, 2016

Gloria Chrin Magok, HIV/AID Prevention Officer in the Ministry of Health in South Sudan.

“Your readiness and your commitment will make your project fail or success,” said DAVTA Goola, HIV trainer, to the participants of the “National HIV/AIDS Programme Managers” Training for the WHO African Region, which took place in Juba last week.

“I am looking at managers right now. You know now which are the critical issues to become good leaders, and I wish to hear from you in the future that you are making the difference in the fight against HIV/AID epidemic in your states”, he added during the closing ceremony of the training.

Every day 50 people become infected with HIV in South Sudan. 190,000 people are living with HIV in the country and only 19,000 of them are on treatment. The political crisis has affected the health system, where inadequately skilled staff, poor health infrastructure, weak medicines supplies management systems and leadership are common.

International partners are now more concerned about these facts and have increased investments in HIV response in the last year. Global fund is funding South Sudan through UNDP to provide guidance on the development of new policies, strategies and guidelines for scale up of the national response to HIV/AIDS.

National HIV/AIDS Programme Managers in the Ministry of Health plays a critical role in the response to the HIV epidemic. They need to have the skills and the knowledge that will help them to improve programme performance, making staffing decisions, allocating resources, determining the future direction of programmes, and providing timely feedback to national stakeholders, international partners and donors.

“It took more than a year to prepare this training. We saw the gaps and we realized where the needs were, and we planned to bring here the facilitators. The purpose was to teach how to more effective mobilize resources and partners for the HIV epidemic response and how to plan strategically. After 6 months or after one year, we want to see that you [the trainees] are able to assess and analyses needs and gaps, that you know better the epidemic and have more data”, explained Dr. Moses Mutebi, WHO Medical Officer, during the closing ceremony of the two weeks training.

Sub-Saharan Africa has the most serious HIV and AIDS epidemic in the world. In recent years, a number of countries such as Botswana, Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and Rwanda, have implemented national campaigns to encourage uptake of HIV testing. The facilitators of the “National HIV/AIDS Programme Managers” Training are from Uganda and Kenya and have vast experience in conducting large-scale prevention programmes and in managing projects to contain and reduce the HIV epidemics.

“This course made us catching up with other countries of Africa. We should stop making excuse about being an infant country. It is time for us to work hard and do the right thing for our people and our country. This training can definitely change the response of HIV in South Sudan, but is in your hands to stop doing the traditional ways and start thinking an innovative ways”, concluded Victoria Achut, Programme Manager for HIV/AIDS/STIs in South Sudan Ministry of Health.

National and state level HIV managers in South Sudan are equipped with useful skill and knowledge to understand the dynamics of the HIV epidemic,  plan strategically, operationalize these plans, understand and use strategic information, use partnership and collaborations wisely and strengthen health systems and programs. In total 28 national and state HIV managers (M: 20 and F: 8) had attended the training.

“I have learnt that in prevention I cannot work alone, I have to work with the team, have all the information available about the epidemic in South Sudan and develop the best strategies to face the epidemic. I am very well equipped now and I am ready to take my task and change the behaviour of the people from my department. I feel now like a manager”, affirmed Gloria Chirin Magok, Prevention Officer in the Ministry of Health, while showed proudly her certificate.

“When we go back to our jobs, we will manage to plan strategically. This training is just beginning of the process, we will become managers and leaders in our field,” said one of the participants, Acaga Taban Ismail, Strategic Information Manager in the HIV department of the Ministry of health.

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